Dark R-Rated Crime Thriller Proves Beloved Megastar Should Play More Villains, Stream Without Netflix

By Jason Collins | Published

There are not many opportunities to see Mission Impossible star Tom Cruise portray a villain in a cinematic release; so far, only two movies have depicted him as a villain in their respective narratives. One of those is 1994’s Interview with the Vampire, while the other is Collateral, in which the actor—best known for his heroic performances—portrays a sociopathic hitman.

Collateral Was An Amazing Change For Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise Collateral is a 2004 neo-noir action thriller that stars Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx. Unlike many other Tom Cruise movies, Collateral has Cruise playing a villainous role in the film, as a sociopathic hitman who forces a cab driver, played by Jamie Fox, to drive him around Los Angeles as he carries out his hits.

The supporting cast includes Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo, Peter Berg, Javier Bardem, and Bruce McGill. Of course, the story isn’t as simple as it sounds; there’s plenty of involvement from governmental agencies, political figures, and law enforcement.

Beloved By Everyone

tom cruise jamie foxx collateral

This incredible mixture and a really good story have granted Tom Cruise’s Collateral a fantastic score on Rotten Tomatoes, with 86 percent on the Tomatometer and 84 percent audience score, which signals that the movie was loved by basically everyone. This is also reflected by the fact that several people called Foxx’s performance a “revelation” for his ability to convey fear, confusion, and frustration, as well as exhaustion and reckless behavior typically associated with those under prolonged duress.

Jamie Foxx Was Nominated, Tom Cruise Wasn’t

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In fact, the Django Unchained star received critical acclaim for his performance, earning a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Tom Cruise, on the other hand, didn’t receive any Academy Award nominations (he was nominated for several other awards) for his portrayal in Collateral, but he was still widely praised for his chilling and charismatic performance and portrayal of a villain. People liked his portrayal of a hitman, a rather dangerous character without all the usual tropes that characterize hitmen in other movies.

Tom Cruise’s Fascinating Villain

tom cruise collateral

Tom Cruise’s character in Collateral has a rather detached, unnerving quality about him that’s always hidden with a smile or unbridled joy, making him a strangely likable character. This made the whole character much more realistic, especially since some of the most successful killers in history were known to be likable and charming individuals. But what made the character work so well is the juxtaposition of his likeability with the bursts of extreme violence that obviously excite the character on a deep psychological level.

Worth Watching Today

Tom Cruise’s Collateral did well commercially, having earned $220 million on a budget of $65 million—considered small by today’s standards. One could argue about the idea of a sequel, but considering the film’s ending, that wouldn’t have been possible. But a remake, on the other hand, now there’s an idea, Hollywood—bonus points if Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx reprise their respective roles in the movie.

Those interested in watching Tom Cruise in Collateral can do so over on Paramount+, a failing streaming service from a company whose financial situation is now endangering franchises such as Star Trek.